The Plane Truth
"What a miserable day."
"Staring at it isn't likely to make it lift any faster, you know."
Napoleon glanced back over his shoulder at his partner and sighed. For two hours now they'd been sitting on the tarmac waiting for the fog to lift enough for takeoff.
Illya had abandoned the cockpit for the main body of the Lear jet and was sprawled out on one of the sofas. "Even when it does lift, the Big Boys are going to get first shot. We are going to have to squeeze in when and where we can. The way I look at it, we are here for another couple of hours at least."
"My little ray of sunshine. I should stick you outside the plane and let you burn the fog off with your beaming smile."
"Joke all you want, we are here for the duration. Do something practical with your time. Finish your report."
"Already did and sent it in." Napoleon got up and started to pace the length of the small craft.
"Really?" Illya smirked. "Fifty secretaries are holding their collective chests in surprise. Read something."
"Read everything on the plane, including the emergency procedures. Would you like to know how to flush the toilets during a sudden drop in pressure?"
"I'm flying this bucket. If there's a sudden drop in pressure, I can almost assure you my mind will be elsewhere. I'd suggest you daydream about recent conquests, but that avenue is out as well. I am sorry that the Innocent on this assignment was so very married, Napoleon."
"No, you're not."
Illya grinned, one of his dazzling 'you're right' grins. "And that her daughter was under age."
Napoleon sighed at that. "She didn't think she was. I was afraid I was going to need to find a chastity belt. "
"The fact remains, here we sit and you might as well make the best of it." Illya yawned and draped an arm over his eyes. "I know I am."
"Truth or dare?"
"Truth or dare what?" Illya's voice was muffled by his jacket.
"You've been in this country how long and haven't played 'Truth or Dare?' I can't believe it. Don't you go to parties at all?"
"The parties I frequent involve the playing of very few games, my friend." Illya's smile was enigmatic.
"So I've heard..." Napoleon plopped down beside him. "So, truth or dare."
"I still don't understand."
"You pick one or the other. If you pick truth, then you must answer whatever question I ask you truthfully."
"Has escaped your attention? We are spies; we don't tell the truth as a rule."
"Which is why this game is that much more fun."
"And the dare?"
"You have to do whatever I tell you to." Napoleon tucked a hand behind his head and grinned. "And I should warn you, I've got quite the imagination."
"Of that, I have no doubts."
"Come on, partner, what have you got to lose?"
"Quite a bit depending upon how you play this game. All right, truth."
"What was your first thought when you heard you were being sent to America? And the truth, Illya."
"My first thought? I wondered who I'd angered back in Moscow. I didn't see this as a positive move. I'm still not sure that I do."
"Barbs through my heart. Now it's your turn. Truth."
Illya's eyes studied him for a long time with his brow furrowed and then he relaxed it. "All right; why do you feel the need to chase every skirt you see?"
"That's not an answer, Napoleon, and you know it."
"I wasn't finished..."
"We have a life expectancy that can be measured in seconds at times. We leave our apartments in the morning, not knowing if we'll ever return. To me, sex is life; it means I'm still alive, it tells me I'm still part of the human race. It allows me to connect with my fellow human beings and feel, if only for a short time. In short, carpe diem."
"If you carpe'd any more out of a diem, you'd be hauled off to jail or possibly to a lab for testing."
"Jealous, jealous... my turn."
Napoleon's lips curled in a sly smile and his eyes drifted partially closed. "Have you ever been with a man? Physically, I mean."
"Of course, you don't get through Survival School without that class. The glories of the honey trap. I think Cutter gets way too much pleasure out of flunking people out of that class. You can earn top marks in everything, hesitate for a moment at the thought of seducing your own sex and you're on the next helicopter out. It must be more interesting now that they are allowing women in." Illya stopped and cocked his head to one side. "Do you suppose they make women do what they made us do?"
"No idea... although, allow me to wander down that path for a moment." He sighed and then stretched out his legs. "Okay, truth."
"Do you ever regret joining UNCLE? And remember the truth now, Napoleon, I will know..."
"Ouch, take thy sword from out my heart. Yes, I do when I see a happy family somewhere. When I wonder what it might be like to have kids and a nice normal life."
"That would last all of ten minutes." Illya stood up and arched his back. "Would you like some coffee?"
"That would be great. Don't you ever wonder what it would be like? Come home at night, be met at the door with a drink and your slippers?"
"I don't wear slippers. Slippers are for the weak hearted," Illya shouted back from the galley.
"And the cold feeted." Illya reappeared carrying two cups of coffee. He offered one to Napoleon and reseated himself. Napoleon sipped and winced. "If we run out of fuel, we can always use this. Any thicker and we could tar a roof with it."
"Love me, love my coffee." Illya glanced out the window before sitting back. "So whose turn is it?"
"Mine. Is there anything in here," Napoleon tapped Illya's chest, "that believes in a superior being?"
"I don't believe you. Never once in a crisis have you prayed to someone or something for more strength, speed, or capability?" Napoleon watched Illya's eyes as they dropped to his lap. "There's no one that you believe that in gives you that faith?"
"You can't have it both ways, my friend. Either you believe in God or you don't."
"I don't, but I do believe in my partner and that's enough." He drank his coffee and looked back out the window, sighing. "I wish this fog would lift."
Napoleon fell silent, unsure of how to proceed. This was a bit of a revelation, no matter how you looked at it and he didn't want to blow it off as unimportant, nor did he want to make Illya uncomfortable.
"My turn, I believe," Illya said after a long moment. "How do you feel about ascending to the Big Chair?"
"Waverly's job, you mean? Terrified, excited, sick to my stomach—so much power, so easy to step wrong, make the wrong choice or decision. I do that and innocent people die."
"I wish I could be as certain."
"Waverly wouldn't have fingered you for it if he didn't trust you implicitly. You're a good leader, Napoleon."
"I'm glad you think I'm perfect."
"Not perfect, you're flawed and that's where your strength is. A perfect man is unapproachable, unchangeable and unlovable. That makes him an ineffective leader. "
"Why, Mr. Kuryakin, are you telling me you love me?"
Illya shrugged his shoulders and looked into his coffee cup. "You're better than most men I've dealt with. You are honest, hardworking and not afraid to get dirty. You may not like it, but you'll do whatever it takes to make something right." A sudden burst of chatter from the cockpit made Illya's head jerk in that direction. "Excuse me."
Napoleon watched his partner stand and trot to the cockpit. He pulled on a headset and sat all in one fluid motion. Illya returned five minutes later with a grim look on his face.
"They've pretty much grounded everything within a hundred mile radius. They are hoping to have a window open within three hours."
"We better call home and see what they want us to do." Napoleon stood and walked to a small console. He sat down and began to work the toggle switches. "Open Channel D please."
"Channel D is open, Napoleon, is that you?"
"Yes, who is this?"
"April, since when are you minding the fort?"
"Since Janey needed to powder her nose. What's going on?"
"We are fog bound." Napoleon glanced up as Illya leaned over his shoulder, so close he could smell the lingering scent of soap on Illya's skin, just a hint of aftershave.
"They tell me for the next three hours, April. Instructions?"
"Hi, Illya. Hold on."
Napoleon studied Illya's profile out of the corner of his eye. The man, however, was singularly intent upon the console.
"Mr. Kuryakin?" Waverly's voice had replaced the woman's.
"Sit tight. If something doesn't open up within the next few hours, you and Mr. Solo find someplace to stay. And don't break the bank."
"Understood. Kuryakin out." Illya suddenly became aware of Napoleon's proximity. "So here we are."
"You want more coffee?"
"Sure, there's nothing else to do in here." Napoleon rose and walked back to the lounge couch. Illya collected the cups and returned with them filled. "You do realize the chances of us finding anything are next to none."
"Yes, but there is no rule we have to leave the plane. That couch you're sprawled on opens up into a semi-comfortable bed, there's food in the galley as long as you're not in the mood for anything too fancy. The toilet works as does the shower as long as you are brief. The radio, if you need music... no reading material other than what's here, sorry about that."
"Like you knew we were going to be grounded," Napoleon muttered, taking his cup back.
"It isn't that unlikely here at this time of year."
"So, it's my turn now... or are you up for a dare?"
One corner of Illya's mouth crept up. "And the nature of this dare?"
"Oh, usually designed to humiliate and annoy the person."
"Well, since that's basically impossible and I do have a weapon, I'll accept your dare."
"That's your dare?" Illya shrugged his shoulders. "All right." He grabbed Napoleon's shoulders and planted a kiss on each of Napoleon's cheeks in typical French fashion, then released him. "There, you are kissed."
"That's not what I meant," Napoleon sputtered, falling back against the cushions.
"That is not my fault." Illya found his cup of coffee and blew on the contents to cool it. "You were not specific." He sipped and frowned. "This really is without redemption."
"The game or the coffee?"
"Both, I'd wager, before it's over." Illya stood and headed instead for the small bar. "You want a scotch?"
"Isn't it a little early in the day?"
"It's five o'clock in Kosovo. That's good enough for me." Illya opened a bottle and poured a couple of fingers of scotch into a glass. "Ice? Neat?"
"Sure, why not? It's not as if I'm going to have to have my wits about me any time soon."
Illya grinned, dumped a couple of ice cubes into the amber liquid, then opened up a bottle of tonic water and poured it into a glass. He carried both over to his partner and plopped back down.
"You're not drinking?"
"No... Um, twenty four hours from bottle to throttle, I think my instructor used to say. It was always hard to understand him after he'd had a few."
"A drunken flying instructor?"
"It was easier that way." Illya 'clinked' his glass against Napoleon's and drank. "Besides, if by some miracle this stuff lifts, I don't want to ruin our chances of getting out of here by being under the influence."
"Makes sense." Napoleon sipped his and sighed. "So whose turn is it?"
"You're still on about this? Mine, I believe."
Napoleon smiled, a slow sly thing, "Dare. It's only right."
Illya was very quiet for a very long time and Napoleon started to get just a tiny bit nervous. "All right. Show me."
"Show you what, partner?"
"What you meant when you asked me to kiss you."
Napoleon rolled his eyes skyward. "Oh thank God, I thought it was going to be something truly devious."
He cupped each of Illya's cheeks, and like a true warrior, Napoleon went straight for the kill, leaning in to kiss Illya full on the lips. And once there, he really saw no point in being in a hurry. He lingered, pressing his mouth over Illya's, neither surprised nor encouraged by the lack of protest. Illya was a scientist, at least to the point where he welcomed experimentation.
And it wasn't very much different from kissing a woman, providing your date was sporting a five o'clock shadow and aftershave. Illya's lips were thinner than most of the women he usually kissed, but that didn't really matter. In fact, he was more vested in Illya than he was in most of the dates he entertained. Illya would do anything he could for Napoleon. He'd lend him money, follow him anywhere, move mountains, re-route streams or do his damndest to try. Illya would die for him and suddenly, Napoleon's world shifted just a little bit.
He pulled away and licked his lips. Illya looked a bit stunned, as if he too had suddenly realized something he'd not thought of until a moment earlier. "You..." Illya cleared his throat. "... must have scored very well in that class."
"I had a good teacher." Napoleon released Illya's face and took a breath. "A very good teacher."
A blast of static woke him and Napoleon sat up, looking around confusedly until he remembered where they were. Illya made some inarticulate noise that might have been a grunt, but Napoleon couldn't be sure.
He slid out of the sofa bed and pulled on his pants. Walking into the cockpit, he blinked in the sunlight.
"Repeat, UNCLE seven five niner, are you prepared for pushback?"
Napoleon sat down and hit the microphone switch. "This is UNCLE seven five niner, we are negative."
"Thought we'd lost you, UNCLE seven five niner." The voice sound relieved.
"Pilot fell asleep. He'll contact you when he's done his final check. UNCLE seven five niner out."
Napoleon toggled the switch off and walked back into the body of the plane. Illya was sitting up and stretching.
"You look like the cat that ate the canary." Napoleon sat down to pull on his socks.
"I think we should leave any bird references out of our post coital discussions, thank you." Illya dug beneath the sheets for his pants. He came out with Napoleon's shirt and one sock. "These are yours, I believe."
"Thanks." Napoleon caught Illya's arm and Illya looked down at his hand and then up. "Illya, what did we just do?"
Illya pulled his arm back with a smile. "I think we just dared to discover a little truth about each other." Illya tugged on his turtleneck and trousers. "And for that, I thank you."
"No, I mean, what did we just do?"
"You mean the actual act?"
"No, I know what it's called, but it wasn't just sex to me... it was—"
Illya held up a hand. "If we don't name it, then no one can take it away from us. It's ours to do with as we will." He leaned in and kissed Napoleon. "And I should warn you, I am very willful." He started to walk to the cockpit. "And willing."
Napoleon grinned at that. "And where there's a will," he murmured. He looked out the window and grinned at the watery sunshine. It was a very good day.